The Three Great Crusader Castles of North Cyprus
North Cyprus villa holidays are ideal for those who love to explore and discover history on holiday, especially lovers of romantic ruined castles! Here are the best three Crusader castles to visit in North Cyprus, each one an ideal day trip into the cool of the mountains if you find the poolside of your holiday villa just a little too warm.
St Hilarion Castle, near Kyrenia, North Cyprus
St Hilarion was a hermit who fled to Cyprus from Palestine, and made a demon-infested mountain his home. Luckily the hermit was deaf, so he couldn't hear the tempting words of the demons, which eventually gave up in disgust and left the hermit in peace!
The castle you can explore at St Hilarion today is a mixture of Crusader castle as captured by Richard the Lionheart, the reinforced castle of the Lusignan kings, and the down-sized castle partly demolished by the Venetians to cut running costs. Just a short drive from Kyrenia, the impressive walls, towers and battlements of St Hilarion Castle have a fairy-tale look about them, and it is said that Walt Disney based the design of Snow White's castle on this impressive North Cyprus castle. Leave your rental villa early in the morning so you can climb up to the top of the tallest tower before the hottest part of the day, for a fabulous view across North Cyprus.
Our sister company, Go North Cyprus offers a guided Kyrenia bus tour with St Hilarion Castle included. You can check the tour schedule and book online.
Buffavento Castle, Northern Cyprus
Buffavento Castle is probably the most dramatic of the three castles, built on a rocky cliff some 950 metres above sea level. It's also quite an adventure to visit, so you should hire a 4x4 vehicle from Amy Villas to negotiate the last 8km of dirt track to the castle. (Remember, we can deliver any hire car direct to your holiday villa in North Cyprus, so you can hire a 4x4 just for the day if you wish.)
Buffavento Castle began as a modest watchtower, before the Byzantine king Comnenus escaped here to avoid the invading force of Richard the Lionheart. The Venetians let the castle fall into disrepair, so what remains are atmospheric ruins, with magnificent views across the whole of North Cyprus right across to Famagusta in the east. It's well worth the road trip during your North Cyprus villa holiday for this view alone!
Kantara Castle, near Famagusta, Northern Cyprus
If the other two castles are a little too high in the mountains for a quick trip, then head out from your holiday villa in North Cyprus to Kantara Castle.
Kantara Castle stands on a small hill just 33 miles from Famagusta, right at the neck of the Karpas Peninsula. Just like the other two castles, it saw action when the Crusaders invaded, and was also abandoned during the Venetian period. However, the Lusignan kings stayed at Kantara when hunting in the local forests, tracking down wild goat with tame leopards (which seems a bit one-sided in favour of the big cats!).
Unlike the other two castles, Kantara is built almost into the hillside, with just one entrance that was extremely well defended. Today, you can walk into Kantara castle between the twin entrance towers and explore the maze of rooms, living quarters and barracks. The best views are from the northeast tower, where on a clear day with binoculars, you might even be able to see the glint of the pool at your rental villa in the Famagusta area!
Amy Villas: your Own Castle for a Week or Two!
They say an Englishman's home is his castle, so choose your (holiday) home in from our range of North Cyprus villas for rent and start feeling like royalty!